Compare and contrast the following quotes:
Quote #1- “The idea that the Americans are going to win the war in Iraq is an idea which is just plain wrong.”
Quote #2- “There is no doubt that the space in which the terrorists can move has begun to shrink and that the grip around the throats of the enemy has begun to tighten. With the deployment of soldiers and police, the future for the terrorists has become frightening.”
Who said quote #1? If you guessed Osama bin Laden, you’d be wrong. It wasn’t a terrorist. It wasn’t even Baghdad Bob. It was Howard Dean, the face of the Democratic party.
Actually, quote #1 isn’t an exact quote. What Howard Dean said this week was, “The idea that we’re going to win the war in Iraq is an idea that is just plain wrong.” But changing “we” to “Americans” doesn’t change the substance of the statement. America cannot win this war, according to Dr. Dean.
The second quote? Again, it’s a paraphrase. The actual quote is this: “There is no doubt that the space in which we can move has begun to shrink and that the grip around the throats of the mujahidin has begun to tighten. With the deployment of soldiers and police, the future has become frightening.” The author was Abu Musab al-Zarqawi, the leader of al Qaeda in Iraq, writing to senior al Qaeda officials. Replace the “we” with “terrorists”, and you have a statement worthy of Donald Rumsfeld.
Here’s another quote, this time from Ayman al-Zawahiri in a letter to al-Zarqawi. “"I say to you: that we are in a battle, and that more than half of this battle is taking place in the battlefield of the media." Knowing that, you can’t help but wonder how al Qaeda officials reacted to Washington Post columnist Richard Cohen, who recently commented, “How can we have ‘Victory in Iraq’ if the man in command has already brought us defeat?”
He went on to say, "’Defeat’ may be too strong a word, but if so, that's only for the moment. If, in fact, U.S. troops pull out of Iraq anytime before their mission is accomplished — the plan of some Democrats and the wish of a few Republicans — then defeat is surely what this debacle will be called. Even if that does not happen, any victory that comes three years and more than 2,000 U.S. military deaths later than promised cannot be considered a triumph. Call it what you will, but at the very least it's a tragedy.” Why on earth would Cohen set the possible outcomes as either defeat or tragedy? Coming from him, “No good can come from our effort in Iraq” sounds less like a prediction and more a desperate prayer.
The answer to why Dean, Cohen, and the Democratic spin machine are now pushing the president to accept defeat is, of course, politics. Politically speaking, the left wing of the Democrat Party may have painted itself into a corner. Back in November, Tim Russert asked Howard Dean about a couple of poll numbers. On the issue of national defense, according to a poll Russert cited, Americans trust Republicans 43% to 22%. On the War on Terror, Americans trust Republicans 35% to 26%. Confronted with those numbers, Dean clearly had to make a choice. He could try to change the perception of the Democrat Party, or he could try to convince Americans that retreat is preferable to continued fighting. With his statement this week, Dean has made his choice. Isn’t it sad that the leader of a major political party in this country is more pessimistic about our chances for success than the guy we’re actually fighting?